Creating a social media marketing plan

Social media marketing is simple, it’s viral marketing or what I call ‘online PR.’ The goal is to get people talking about your product. Sound easy? It can be. Businesses, especially small ones, should be utilizing social media to help create word of mouth and to promote their product organically. Yet, how does a businesses with limited resources best utilize this medium?

As you probably know, there are many social networks out there and more popping up each day. So which ones should you choose? This year 37% of adult Internet population and 70% of teens were using social networks at least once a month. By the year 2011, those numbers will rise to 1⁄2 of the adult online population and 85% of teens, according to eMarketer.com. With the rise of social media networks still climbing I thought its imperative to have a presence online. The two biggest social networking sites I suggested to use are Facebook and MySpace.

Facebook
In the Burlington, Vermont area alone, there are almost 29,000 people currently using Facebook.

Here are some ways to utilize this social network:

  • Create and maintain a Facebook profile and invite friends to join it. Find people who are interested in activities that relate to your product. Using Facebook is a great way to get the word out instantaneously when you have news or events, etc., to report.
  • Create and maintain a specific group that is proactive in encouraging people to participate. Some ways to do that include the following:
  • Post and encourage the posting of daily photos
  • Create a contest for best photo. The winner gets their photo posted on the main website and/or some sort of discount for visiting your business.
  • Post any events that are happening relating to your product.
  • Offer a discount for group members on a given day to print out from Facebook and redeem at our business.
  • There is a place within the networks tab to post local events. Utilize this to post any special events or happenings and encourage people to visit.
  • Surf discussion topics throughout the network and post comments to help gain some presence and legitimacy.

MySpace
Among the top 20 social networking sites, MySpace is visited 82% of the time, according to Hitwise. Create a presence in MySpace.

  • Create and maintain a user profile
  • Find and invite friends to join
  • Post daily photos
  • Post any special events and send out flyers to all friends on the network/friends list.
  • Create and maintain a blog within MySpace to talk about current events and other things going on related to your busines, etc.

BLOGGING
Another inexpensive tool for businesses to take advantage of is Blogging. According to eMarketer, 61% of the blog readers are over the age of 30, and 75% make more than $45,000 a year. And according to Perseus, 92% of bloggers are under the age of 30. This covers a lot of ground. Companies need to create a presence among the blogosphere by initiating the following but be careful with this one. Create a blog only if you can maintain it.

  • Create and maintain a blog with high quality content that bloggers will want to link to.
  • Syndicate it with an RSS feed or email sign-up
  • Link it to your website and vice versa as well as the newly created MySpace profile and Facebook
  • Link it to related websites and ask them to link back
  • Reach out to other blogs and establish relationships with bloggers who blog about topics related to your industry
  • Monitor the blogosphere and comment where appropriate
  • Create a picture slide show and update it frequently

A blog compliments your website and will help promote your product in an informal and organic way. This can be used in place of a newsletter as visitors can sign up for email announcements and RSS feeds that go directly to their computers giving information to a targeted group interested in your product.

When it comes to social media some companies may be afraid of losing some control by encouraging consumers to talk about their product instead of controlling their own message. However, the use of social media can work twofold for you; 1. With limited resources it’s an inexpensive way to create a buzz in the marketplace and, 2. you can find out directly how consumers view your product and respond and adjust accordingly.

Utilizing social networking sites and blogs will help create a buzz and will compliment marketing efforts without gobbling up your budget. It also creates a more grassroots campaign and encourages your customers to talk about your product. The cost really only includes the resources of someone dedicated to your online visibility. And your return could far outweigh that cost.

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